Gay marriage divide evident in Iowa

The Kansas City StarApril 28, 2009 

The lines that separate Iowans on gay marriage cut through neighborhoods and churches, dividing people who live in the same world but see the issue much differently.

One of those lines is 42nd Street, a leafy, two-lane residential street. On one side sits St. Augustine's Catholic Church, a large building with brown brick on the outside, ornate stained glass inside and a mostly conservative membership sitting in the wooden pews.

Here on Sunday, 24 hours before same-sex marriage took hold in Iowa, a 36-year-old stood and walked to face his congregation, his mind on what he believes is a seminal moment in America's slow march away from its connection to faith and morality.

"There are simple truths we face as (Christians)," Todd Erzen told his fellow parishioners. "The world is going to get turned upside down tomorrow."

Directly across the street, in a brick house painted white, one of 20 Quakers sitting on tan metal chairs at the Des Moines Valley Friends Meeting stood to break almost an hour's worth of silence. She addressed a group that 15 years ago blessed a gay couple in a wedding ceremony. Many here see Monday as a long-overdue addition to Iowa's civil rights movement.

"I am reminded," she said, "that I have different views than others, and that we must respect those differences. That we all have God in all of us and that I only have a part of the truth."

These are the two sides of Iowa, side by side, fervently opposed to one another.

Just 100 miles north of Kansas City, the culture wars have descended in full force. Earlier this month the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying was unconstitutional.

On Monday, when that ruling went into effect, couples like Macvilla Phillips and Iman Powell, who live together near the Plaza in Kansas City, came to Iowa to exchange vows. Missouri won’t recognize their marriage, however.

To read the complete article, visit www.kansascity.com.

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